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Anderson / Stolt - Invention of Knowledge CD (album) cover


Anderson / Stolt


Symphonic Prog

3.63 | 206 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars Tales From Soporific Oceans...

On paper it couldn't miss: a collaboration between YES icon Jon Anderson and guitarist Roine Stolt of THE FLOWER KINGS, in a return to the sort of long-form Symphonic Rock not heard from Anderson in decades. The finished album was advertised (in a big sticker smack-dab on the CD cover) as "new music in the spirit of early works such as Tales From Topographic Oceans & Olias of Sunhillow" ...strictly sales talk, but the comparison caught on, in a textbook model of autosuggestion.

Reviews so far have been glowing, enough to warrant a dissenting opinion. And here it is, from a reluctant spoilsport old enough to recall when the music of Jon Anderson and Yes really did strive toward "The Revealing Science of God".

As a bridge uniting two generations of Progressive Rock, the new album is built of flimsy stuff. The original "Topographic Oceans", keep in mind, found its genesis in the ancient Hindu shastras described by Paramahansa Yogananda in his autobiography, famously introduced to Anderson by maverick King Crimson percussionist Jamie Muir. "Invention of Knowledge", in contrast, was born poolside aboard a luxury Prog Rock cruise ship sailing the Caribbean, with free food, fine drinks, and a casino belowdecks.

The so-called collaboration was ersatz from the start. Jon Anderson would email ideas to Sweden, where Stolt force-fit them onto older, unreleased music of his own before sending them back to California for more amendments (and still more lyrics) by Anderson, working alone on his home studio computer. The only time the two were actually in the same room was during a promotional photo shoot.

All a sign of the times, in this Brave New World of web-linked music production. But still a lousy way to write and record an album. It's no wonder the outcome resembled a lesser Flower Kings effort, featuring a celebrity guest vocalist who sounds like he wandered into the studio by chance and began singing about Ley lines before anyone could stop him.

Maybe Stolt was reluctant to assert himself over material developed (suggested, really) by an obvious idol. We could have then been spared this tepid collection of uninspired soft-prog, certainly effective in spots, but with a numbing uniformity in tone and tempo over its 65-minute length. Olias of Sunhillow? Try Olias of Sleepy Hollow instead...

Mine is a minority opinion, to be sure. But no way is the album worthy of comparison to classic Prog, sounding to this Grinch more like something the Whos of Whoville would sing while carving their holiday roast beast. Quoting Jon Anderson himself, from an earlier and more enlightened age of Progressive expression: What happened / To wonders / We once knew so well?

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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